INDEPENDENT Senator Anthony Vieira on Friday in the Senate implored the Government to try using the malaria/parasite drug Ivermectin to treat covid19. But Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the risk of harm and legal liability was too high for a drug not approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).
While supporting vaccination, Vieira said Ivermectin had been around for 40 years and was one of the safest and most well-tolerated drugs.
He said it had been used widely in humans against Malaria, not just on horses, and was subject to new uses.
"There is an ocean of data showing Ivermectin's safe, broad-spectrum functionality inhibits attachment of covid's viral spike to the human cell membrane and effectively blocks infection."
He said Ivermectin had been used successfully to treat covid19 in India, Africa, Australia and South America among other countries.
"Why is information being distorted, suppressed and dismissed?" he asked.
"How is this possible when Ivermectin is on the WHO's list of essential medicines?
"I don't want to speculate. I don't want to believe that crass commercial considerations on the part of big pharma, who have an interest in selling high-priced vaccines, might be informing resistance to the use of Ivermectin for covid patients."
He hoped local health officials did not blindly follow the WHO in any fettering of their discretion or lack of independent judgement.
Vieira said places in Africa where Ivermectin was widely used to treat malaria and river blindness also had low rates of covid19 infections.
In India, covid19 cases were fewer in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Goa where Ivermectin was used against covid19 but higher in Tamil Nadu where it was not used. Medical practitioners in France, Israel and Jamaica supported the drug against the virus, he said. Vieira said the drug was safe, low-cost and readily available. He hoped it would be explored urgently in TT.
Deyalsingh replied that all drugs have side effects including Ivermectin. Many drugs work in lab conditions but not in real life, he said.
"Who will bear the brunt of the liability issues if drugs fail?"
He listed several qualities of the drug that had not yet been fully studied including its effect on hospital stay time and virus clearance.
"You have to go through all the phases of clinical trials. Avoid litigation and severe outcomes."
He said Ivermectin was not officially recommended, just like the drugs Hydroxychloroquine and Remdesivir, which some had once touted as promising drugs against covid19.
Deyalsingh said a vaccinated person has a 99 per cent chance of not developing covid19, being hospitalised or dying.
He said neither CARPHA, WHO, FDA or the European Medicines Agency had recognised Ivermectin for use against covid19 at this time. That, he said, was always subject to change.